By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Unlike the nu-metal brats, though, Isis know that staying true to the essential economy of hardcore does not mean you can't go for the Big Picture, either in expansive sound, absurd song length (average here is eight minutes), or ambitious thematic concept. (Check out that Foucault quotation!) All you need to "keep it real" is to make sure some things stay spare. So Isis balance their sweep with almost tediously restrained drums and frontman Aaron Turner's average singing voice, so infrequent or buried in the mix that it effectively renders Panopticon an instrumental record.
Isis deserve their name, in other words, because they have achieved a genuinely epic sound, not by aping Scandinavian black metal, but by melting down their own peculiar influencesincluding, most importantly, the dread commotions of their pals Neurosisinto a modern American hammer of the gods. That said, Isis is a goddess, the "Divine Mother" Turner sang about on 2001's experimental but basically uninteresting SGNL>05 EP. Why this invocation of the queen of heaven? Because while the band's riffs are sludgerific, their greatness now turns as much on the softer stuff: layered, pensive, and sometimes downright pretty passages whose mellowness is not, in that tried-and-true metal formula, simply a palette cleanser for monster chords.
"In Fiction," "Syndic Calls," and "Wills Dissolve"the latter laced with electronic chittering that would feel at home on Kid Aall open with slow, vaguely psychedelic space-outs that normal bands put in the middle of their long songs. These probing interplays, which sometimes build and sometimes drift, recall the glacial indie-pluckings of Bedhead or the less atonal drones of Sonic Youth, although it's fair to say they sometimes sound like Pink Floyd too. But if you want to make an epic soundscape big enough to swallow up the listener, you can do worse than meddle with your metal.